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Making Of 'The Silent Man'

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Hi, my name is Patrick Eischen, and I am from Luxembourg. I am going to show you how I created my image "Portrait of a silent man" using Cinema 4D and ZBrush.

About the image

There are many rendered portraits in a lot of galleries. I was always impressed by the high quality of the MentalRay FastSkin shader and how easy it was to set it up once you understood the basic concept of how skin works. But as I "only" have Cinema 4D, MentalRay is not an option for me. But isn't it possible to render realistic skin in Cinema 4D? I wanted to find out with this project.

The Modeling

I usually start my 3d models with a simple cube (box modeling). I know that many prefer point-by-point modeling (or poly-by-poly) but I like using a cube and 'cutting' the detail in, step-by-step. Box modeling allows me to quickly block out the basic shape of the figure and thus to have a better feeling for the proportions of the model. But because I am using good references, any modeling technique would have worked.

411_tid_01.jpg 411_tid_02.jpg


I took the model into ZBrush to add a texture to the face. Every inch of the texture comes from high-resolution photos which where projected onto the model with the ZBrush tools. Wesclei Barbosa has written a tutorial about how to do that. All my reference photos as well as the texture references are from

This is how the final head texture looks:

I used this same texture to create the skin details. I turned it into a black & white image and created a mask of it in ZBrush. Now I was able to use the Inflate brush and sculpt all the little skin details. This technique is explained in this video tutorial. I also included some volume for the hair with a custom brush. Finally I created and extracted a displacement map of the head.


Skin Shader

Now comes the hardest part: setting up the skin shader. For this image I used the Vreel Skin Shader, a plug-in shader for Cinema 4D that allows you to set up different layers of skin and which also includes a SSS effect. It is possible to setup parameters for secularity, surface and translucent. The shader is loaded in the Luminance channel.

Here is a first test render of this shader where only the color map is loaded.


As you can see, most of the texture has been 'overwritten' by the shader. That's because I only loaded a color map until now. In the next picture I used an epidermal map and a subdermal map mixed together with a weight map. All maps are modified versions of the original color map.

This is how the luminance channel looked like after loading the different maps. The default color map is loaded into the standard Cinema Color channel.

I think the default c4d color channel is much easier to set up, so that's why I left "Calculate Surface Shading" blank. And I used "Calculate Specularity" to create an even amount of overall brilliance in the skin (see picture below). The standard C4D specularity channel has been used to create nice sharp specs on the edges (e.g. the lips and on the nose). Both specularity channels have been restricted to a map.


continued on next page >

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